Today's car buyer has a plethora of cosmetic options and configurations to choose from. One of the biggest, perhaps, is deciding whether to have cloth or leather seats. Here we look at some of the main things to consider.



If you're on a budget, cloth seats are considerably cheaper than leather ones. Leather seats also require special conditioners and cleaners which add to the cost. Some manufacturers offer leather seats as part of particular trim options that come with a number of other features.

For example, a Ford Focus Active Edition 2020 with cloth seats costs from £24,060. To get full leather seats you would have to opt for the Active X Vignale Edition, which starts at £28,360. That said, the £4,000 premium means you also get things like Adaptive LED headlights, Rear Wide View Camera, and a Bang and Olufsen sound system.



Cloth seats are softer and more breathable than leather seats, which on a hot day can see bare legs and arms sticking to the surface. On cooler days, you can slide around in leather seats since there is little friction between clothes and leather. Leather seats can also heat up in the sunshine, potentially causing a burning sensation. However, some people prefer the feel of leather seats.



Leather seats are usually thought of as more luxurious than cloth seats. The simple fact they cost more makes them an 'upmarket' option. While some car makers do fit their vehicles with high quality 'premium' looking cloth seats, they still tend to be looked upon as less prestigious.



As mentioned, leather seats require special cleaners and conditioners for maintenance. Using soapy water and a cloth would cause stretching - although this may happen over time anyway.

Cloth seats are easier to maintain with simple steaming or sponging. However, if you spill coffee or juice on cloth seats, they are much more difficult to clean.

Cloth seats are more prone to ripping and other damage than leather seats.


The ‘new car smell’

While it may not matter to everyone, there is something pleasant about that 'new car smell'. Cars with leather seats will smell newer for longer.


Resale value

When it's time to sell, your car will fetch more if it has leather seats - because they cost more in the first place and look more luxurious.


Ethical considerations

If you're vegan or vegetarian, you'll probably want to go for cloth seats. Leather seats are of course made from cattle hides.